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Seaborne Traffic Jam of Container Ships Waiting to Dock in Port of Los Angeles

Seaborne Traffic Jam of Container Ships Waiting to Dock in Port of Los Angeles

Shortage of truck drivers is a profound problem nationwide. COVID lockdowns shuttered the driving schools and made getting licenses difficult.

The Port of Los Angeles is dealing with a seaborne traffic jam, as a record number of container ships circle nearby waters to unload cargo.

A satellite image has captured more than 60 container ships that are stuck waiting to dock outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as a massive supply chain crunch hits the United States.

The extraordinary sight of vessels unable to berth is due in part because of a massive backlog that has been caused by a sudden surge in American buying ahead of the holiday season.

The number of ships that are currently anchored outside the major ports, which moves 40 percent of containers in the United States, has tripled over the course of the past two months to 62. Lines are now at their longest since the start of the pandemic.

The backup at the country’s busiest port complex has been brought on by a pandemic-induced buying boom, coupled with a labor shortage that has overwhelmed the port workforce, according to port officials say.

The shipping traffic jams come as the U.S. and some other economies are beginning to head towards normalcy and shows how messy the reopening of business is proving to be more than 18 months since the pandemic’s onset. It also shows just how fragile supply chains remain.

The root cause is the lack of drivers to haul the products to their next destinations. The situation is such that there is now a concern about the supply of toilet paper.

Ships are also backing up at other ports around the country, Bloomberg reported, as it takes longer to move containers from ships to trains and trucks. A shortage of truck drivers to collect and drop off the 20- and 40-foot steel boxes is compounding the problem.

The supply chain problem is leading stores like Costco to limit purchases of toilet paper and cleaning supplies, and even forced Nike to lower its sales expectations for the year after it reported a rare shortfall for sales over the summer.

Perhaps most troubling is the news that Robert Garcia, the Long Beach mayor, announced this week that the southern California ports are working with the Biden administration to resolve the issue.

The ports said this week that they would expand their hours for cargo pickup, with Long Beach experimenting with a 24/7 pilot program, in response to the historic cargo surge.

“The port of Long Beach is prepared to take bold and immediate action to help the supply chain move the record cargo volumes that keep our economy moving,” said Mario Cordero, the executive director the the port.

Given Team Biden’s many failures, stocking up on toilet paper may be the smart move.

Finally, the shortage of truck drivers is a serious problem nationwide. The prolonged COVID lockdowns shuttered the driving schools and made getting licenses difficult.

“It’s as bad as we’ve ever seen it,” said American Trucking Association’s Chief Economist Bob Costello.

According to the ATA, the trucking industry was already 61,000 drivers short of demand back in 2019. Then the pandemic hit.

“Truck driver training schools shut down, or they trained a fraction of what they normally do. Plus, DMV’s were issuing fewer drivers licenses because they had limited hours,” Costello said.

The result is an industry so desperate for drivers that prospective truckers are being treated like blue-chip athletic recruits.

Shipping firms are actually going to trucking schools and offering to have jobs waiting for students when they graduate.

Signing bonuses are being offered, plus full benefits.


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Good for truckers…their job sucks. It’s about time they get something more.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to healthguyfsu. | September 26, 2021 at 2:48 pm

    Time to put long distance freight back on rails where it belongs.

    A major cause of driver shortage is the avalanche of regulation and hassle that’s been imposed on truck drivers in the last several decades. Most of what they call safety regulation and standards has become a corrupt farce that prevents drivers from doing their job in an efficient and effective way. This has also made them a source of income and a reason for the existence of hordes of police and state DOT agents who waste their time and steal their money.

    Stopping truck drivers to examine trucks and sort through every piece of paper they have, looking for some nonsensical violation of regulations to write tickets for, has become a major source of revenue for many jurisdictions — often they write tickets where there is no violation, knowing that no one is going to expend the time and expense of missing a week’s work and traveling long distances to fight a ticket for several hundred dollars. I went through all this (and more) long ago, and got out of the business — it’s much worse now than it was then.

it would likely help to have the longshoremen w*rk more than a couple hours a day, on the days they actually show up. last i saw, that contract was a masterpiece of featherbedding.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to redc1c4. | September 26, 2021 at 2:51 pm

    Two things I recall out of my dear dead youth. The doc strike in about 1970 or 71 on the west coast brought a lot of imports to a stop. I had a motorcycle undergoing extensive repairs and parts were not to be had. There were a LOT of bad feelings, and more than one local shop had signs in the window essentially telling the longshoremen: if you want or need it, unload the ships.

    I also recall when the dock workers in San Francisco vehemently fought container handling and did everything, including violent tactics, to stop it. So the ships sailed right on by and over to Oakland where the viewpoint was a bit pragmatic. The SF port never came back.

Brave Sir Robbin | September 26, 2021 at 1:53 pm

Perhaps – but offloading a container ship is very efficient these days with a high degree of automation. The real problem seems to be not with getting the cargo off the ships, but rather with getting cargo off the docks.

The truck driver shortfall seems to also be intense in Europe and perhaps other global regions. If all this is is a truckdriver shortage in the US because truck driving schools were closed or curtailed in the US. because of the Controlavirus, in theory this would quickly rectify if left to the free market. Therefore, and given its global scope, I am not sure this is the issue.

Meanwhile, back in China, where all this stuff is made, the factories must be considering what to do with production since it is not being sold but sitting on ships drifting off the coast of California. At some point, they will need to reduce production to await for the return of these ships and their containers and clear the backlog of items sitting in Chinese warehouses and docks.

I understand there are also great shortages in rail cars in the US. Why would this be?

When I take it all in, I have come to the conclusion the root cause of these problems is Dr. Fauci.

Driving a truck is hard work as the hours are long and the pay is not that good. We have a shortage of truckers maybe the pay should go up and the workload go down. There are a lot of truckers that have switched careers because of the demands shipping companies put on them.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Tsquared. | September 26, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    Buying new trucks every three or four years to satisfy Sacramento’s whims is also destroying the independents.

    buck61 in reply to Tsquared. | September 26, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    There are three basic types of truck drivers, what are called city drivers that leave early each morning from a terminal and make deliveries and pick ups at customer locations, those drivers are home every night with a fairly consistent hours and workload. They tend to be the lower paid tier unless they are very senior drivers and drive company trucks. The second group is the medium haul or longer haul solo driver. Those drivers are usually by themselves and run between trucking company terminals or from a shippers yard to a customers yard. Sometimes it is just pick up a loaded trailer and picking up an empty trailer or they may have to wait to load or unload. This is what most people see on most interstate highways. Some of these drivers are away from home maybe a few nights a week. These could be company trucks or independents. Many of the big carriers operate under this model.
    The third group are team operations with two drivers in a truck. These are usually the longest hauls or with the most priority freight as the freight can move almost 24 per days. The hard part here is finding two compatible people who can work together and get along in a truck for upwards of 10-14 days at a time. Many of these drivers are hauling your food products, especially fresh food and produce from coast to coast as the growing seasons evolve each year. This group trends more to independents but there are also some big carriers involved.
    One of the biggest issue for the drivers is scheduling, especially those doing long hauls or where they have to wait to load or unload and can’t simply drop the trailers and a warehouse location. Some customers have very inflexible schedules for shipping or receiving, some have deadlines that are hard to meet, especially in urban areas with traffic issues. Many customers don’t even provide basic restrooms or waiting areas for non company drivers making it an even less desirable jib.

“The shipping traffic jams come as the U.S. and some other economies are beginning to head towards normalcy”

or the last gasp effort of a drowning West as the longer term effects of the capitulation to plandemic porn take hold.

Oh no!! All my imported Chinese shit is gonna be late. Whatever will I do?

The “Biden administration is getting involved.”

More sabotage and treason to come.

“”stocking up on toilet paper may be the smart move.””

Yeah, by all means, let’s get everybody to panic again and start buying a year’s supply of everything. That’ll help ease the shortage. Back in the day, they used to call this “hoarding”.

Subotai Bahadur | September 26, 2021 at 9:48 pm

Another factor is that a significant percentage of the truck drivers are owner/operators. California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) was signed into law in September 2019 and it gravely disadvantages [you could say openly attacks] owner operators. It makes sense if you are an owner/operator NOT to operate in California and if you live in California to change that arrangement.

Subotai Bahadur

Trying to drive a truck in Los Angeles is an unending nightmare. Between the state’s environmental regulations and the transportation restrictions and the general hostility to working people and the work they do, the trucking shortage in California will never be relieved.

There is probably a driver shortage, but why is there nothing in this article about the port/dockworker shortage? That’s where the stovepipe is thinnest. And they are all union workers, which means they are far more likely to be sitting at home, getting paid regular wages to NOT work, and enjoying a contract that prohibits them being replaced.